Divorce is the only legal way to end a marriage in California. Divorce, also called dissolution of marriage, involves settling issues such as child custody, alimony and diving items owned by the couple. Sometimes referred to as dividing assets, this issue occurs when spouses decide who gets what asset. When spouses can’t decide, the court will divide their assets for them.
Assets in a California Divorce
The state will divide two types of assets. The first type of asset is anything bought and sold. These items include cars, houses, boats, and furniture. Assets are also anything of value. Things of value are:
• Bank accounts
• Pension plans
• Life insurance with cash value
California is a Community Property State
Community property, or marital assets, is owned jointly by the married couple. Each spouse owns 50 percent of the assets. Marital assets are things bought and sold during the marriage. In addition, they are things with value acquired during the marriage.
Separate assets are what California considers items acquired prior to the marriage. For instance, a person buys a house prior to marrying their spouse. They purchased a second house during the marriage. They used their own money to buy both houses.
The house bought prior to the marriage is a separate asset. The other spouse doesn’t have a right to that property during the dissolution of marriage. However, the other spouse owns 50 percent of the house purchased during the marriage. Typically, a judge will order the second house be sold and the other spouse receives 50 percent of the proceeds.
What is Quasi-Community Assets?
California also has another category for asset division. It’s called quasi-community assets. These items were either acquired by one or both spouses when living in another state. Although it’s in a separate category, California still treats this property as a community asset.
For example, a spouse bought a New York loft to rent to other people while they were married. The spouse purchased the loft while living in New York. California gives the other spouse 50 percent ownership of the lost. When sold, the other spouse would receive half of the proceeds.
Commingling of Assets in California
Commingling of assets happens all the time during a marriage. Commingling occurs when a spouse has an asset considered separate. That asset becomes combined with a community asset. Commingling of any assets becomes complicated.
For instance, prior to marriage a person purchased a sports car. During their marriage, they sold the sports car. They used that money as down payment on a minivan. Both spouses made monthly car payments on the mini-van.
The down payment is considered separate property. The mini-van is community property. The mini-van is sold during the dissolution of marriage. A lawyer would have to determine the separate and community asset amounts.
Inheritance & divorce is a less complicated issue in California. With inheritance & divorce, the spouse who receives a gift or inheritance is the full owner. The spouse doesn’t receive 50 percent of a gift or inheritance acquired during a marriage.
Divorce & property in California
Ending a marriage in California means a person is legally free to start their lives over again. They can marry who they want and buy whatever they want without sharing it with someone they used to love. Ending a marriage is often complicated when assets like a house or car are involved.
To learn more about asset division in California, speak to a lawyer. You’ll understand how to protect your legal rights. Along with assets, marital debts are treated the same way. Each spouse owes half the debt acquired during the marriage.
Talk to a lawyer to make sure you are giving up too many assets or paying too much of the debt. It’s a great possibility your spouse may already be talking about the same divorce & property in California issue with their lawyer.